Carers Are Missing out on Hundreds of Pounds a Year for Their Pensions
- 97% eligible miss out on the credit
- Carers could be owed over £200 a year
- Government needs a more proactive approach so carers know their rights
- What are carers entitled to?
Thousands of carers could be missing out on a scheme to help them get a better state pension, according to Royal London mutual insurance group.
The group found that only 3,524 carers are claiming the benefit, which will boost their state pension by £237 a year.
When the scheme was introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions, DWP, it predicted that it could benefit around 16,000 carers in the UK, meaning that a 97% are missing out.
The government brought out the benefit in 2010, as part of a new system of National Insurance credits to help bridge gaps in National Insurance records.
The scheme is for part time carers- those who do between 20 to 34 hours a week of caring.
Those who do over 35 hours a week are entitled to Carers Allowance, which gives them automatic credits for National Insurance, but previously there was no help for those who do less than 35 hours, but whose ability to pay National Insurance is still affected.
Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London, said, “These schemes are introduced with the best of intentions, but they become no more than window-dressing if virtually nobody actually takes them up.
“Governments cannot simply hope that people find the information on official websites or rely on the occasional ministerial press release.
“It is time for proactive communications with the public, so that far more people get the help which they are entitled to.”
Other changes to benefits will be coming into place in April 2018 as part of Philip Hammond’s Budget.
Royal London and charity Carers UK are now calling for a more proactive approach by the government to make sure that carers know their rights, and take by any benefits that they are owed.
A DWP spokesperson said, “Over the past eight years the number of applications for carer’s credit has consistently increased year-on-year.”
It is vital that carers get the support they need, which is why we work closely with disability and carer charities and groups, the media, and provide information on the Government website to raise awareness of this important benefit.”
Here’s how you can qualify for the credit:
In order to receive the National Insurance credits, you must be under state pension age and doing at least 20 hours per week of caring for a person with disabilities who is receiving:
- Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
- Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment- daily living component at the standard or enhanced rate
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
Waiting lists for these benefits can be very long- last year thousands suffering from mental health conditions had their benefit tribunals delayed until after Christmas, as some had to wait for nine months.
If the person being cared for doesn’t get one of the above benefits, the carer can still apply for the credits.
Their application will have to be signed by a ‘health or social care professional’, such as a GP, who can confirm the details on the application.
Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said, “Caring for more than twenty hours per week has a big impact on someone’s ability to hold down a job and pay National Insurance Contributions.
“The carer’s credit is a good scheme but it needs much more publicity.
“Caring often impacts negatively on health, wellbeing, and ability to work, and yet carer’s contribution to the economy is worth billions a year.
“They should not lose out financially in retirement as well.”
The government has also recently faced criticism for its’ childcare policy, which excluded foster families from getting free childcare.
For more information on the credit, visit the government’s website.
What deals are out there for carers?
If you’re a carer you are entitled discounts, including free cinema tickets, free entry to National Trust venues, and a free bus pass.
Check out the full list at Latest Deals.
Are you a carer claiming this benefit? Let us know in the comments!